Posted by: Jeff | June 15, 2010

Preview of Tonight’s Speech

What with Lindsey Graham’s defection from the climate bill, the possibility of putting some kind of cap-and-trade structure in place to regulate carbon emissions has appeared dead in the water. But some chatter on Politico this morning concerning Obama’s address tonight on the BP oil spill suggests that may not be the case:

Obama plans to include a call for an energy bill in his Oval Office address about the Gulf on Tuesday night. And the Obama administration has told key senators that “an energy deal must include some serious effort to price carbon as a way to slow climate change,” according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

“No traditional ‘energy only’ bill [without climate-change provisions] meets their sense of what’s credible as a response to BP, or the president’s own 2008 rhetoric,” the aide said.

Needless to say, making oil even more expensive than it already is does not go over well with the public. But it’s a crucial move if we want to both rein in global warming and push our energy infrastructure off oil and coal and towards alternatives. So this is a pretty clear cut case in which political courage is needed. Will Obama have the stones? As Ezra Klein notes, the memo* being circulated by the pollster mentioned in the article, which advises Democrats and the administration on how to frame the debate, does not mention the words “global warming” or “climate change.” Not a good sign. Bradford Plumer is wavering between hope and pessimism as well.

*Just to be nitpicky, I’d add that the memo’s distinction between “foreign” and “domestic” oil, a common trope in American political rhetoric, is economically nonsensical.

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